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Things to Do in Abu Dhabi

Slightly more subdued than flashy Dubai, the Persian Gulf city of Abu Dhabi is a place that mixes old and new. Immerse yourself in the United Arab Emirates’ dynamic capital with a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, stop by the museums on Saadiyat Island, or sail in a traditional Arab dhow boat. Excursions outside the city center give opportunities for ‘dune bashing’ in the desert and overnights in Bedouin-style camps. For thrills, experience world-class shopping (including bartering for local goods at the Gold Souk), the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and the Ferrari World Formula One race track on Yas Island.
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Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
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The race car–themed Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi features 20 rides and attractions—everything from the toddler-friendly carousel of Ferrari prototype cars to cutting-edge racing simulators that will please older kids and teens. The largest indoor theme park in the world is also home to the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa, a hydraulic-powered thrill ride that sees visitors strapped into a Ferrari Formula One-like coaster car and launched at speeds of up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) per hour.

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
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The massive, white Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the central place of worship for citizens of the United Arab Emirates, accommodating roughly 40,000 people. Highlights inside include white marble columns with mother-of-pearl engravings, expansive Iranian carpets, and intricate crystal chandeliers.

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Abu Dhabi Corniche
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Running along the northwest side of the city, the Corniche (also known as Corniche Road) is a stretch of land on the waterfront perfect for a stroll or bike ride. The 5-mile (8-kilometer) promenade has dedicated cycling and pedestrian areas as well as family-friendly beaches, children’s play areas, cafes, restaurants, and shopping.

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Emirates Palace
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Opened in 2005, the 5-star Emirates Palace hotel is one of Abu Dhabi’s top attractions for its sheer scale and grandeur. The multi-domed luxury hotel, part of Kempinski Hotels, sits on the beachfront in palm-sprinkled gardens and makes a lavish retreat for guests and a must-see for Abu Dhabi visitors.

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Abu Dhabi Heritage Village
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Sitting on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche Breakwater, the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village is a reconstruction of an authentic Arabian village. The site offers everything from craft workshops to a replica souk and museum, as well as providing a window into desert life before the 20th-century oil boom.

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Louvre Abu Dhabi Tours
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Opened in 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi stands on Saadiyat Island near central Abu Dhabi. A collaboration between the United Arab Emirates and France, this museum’s stunning, filigreed metal dome draws visitors in to view a collection of artworks and artifacts designed to chart the story of the world’s civilizations.

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Marina Mall
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Situated on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche Breakwater, the Marina Mall is one of the city’s leading shopping destinations, with five floors of stores and leisure venues. There are more than 400 shops, a movie multiplex, family entertainment hubs, and a mix of restaurants, cafés, and fast food options.

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Warner Bros. World
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Located on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, Warner Bros. World is a massive indoor theme park dedicated to the shows and movies of the giant entertainment company. Inside, you’ll enter a parallel universe filled with characters fromBatman andThe Flintstones, explore their movie-set towns, and enjoy rides and interactive family attractions.

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Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH)
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The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH) is the first and largest public institution in the United Arab Emirates that provides complete veterinary care to falcons. While a hospital for these birds of prey may seem unusual, falcons play an important role in Bedouin culture and Arabic tradition.

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Yas Waterworld
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Yas Waterworld sits on Yas Island just outside Abu Dhabi and attracts families, thrill seekers, and water lovers of all ages. Alongside five one-of-a-kind rides, the park serves up an additional 40 slides, experiences, and adventures. This attraction also stages entertainment events and offers restaurants, cafés, and shops.

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More Things to Do in Abu Dhabi

Jebel Hafeet

Jebel Hafeet

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Hugging the border of the United Arab Emirates and Oman, Jebel Hafeet is the highest peak in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the second highest in the country. Rising 4,068 feet (1,240 meters) above the barren desert landscape, the mountain offers vast and stunning views of Al Ain and the far-off Oman from its limestone peak.

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Al Ain Oasis

Al Ain Oasis

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Spread out across 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares), Al Ain Oasis is the largest green space in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and offers a respite from the city’s crowds and heat. The oasis maintains its evergreen appearance year round with the help of wells and falaj—a traditional, underground irrigation system used throughout the country.

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Cultural Foundation

Cultural Foundation

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Slated as the home of Abu Dhabi’s culture, the Cultural Foundation is a hub for art, film, music, and theater, shining a light on the city’s creative spirit. Featuring multiple art galleries, a children’s library, and auditorium for world-class music, theater, and dance performances, the Cultural Foundation embraces its traditions while moving towards the future.

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Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Island

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Sitting northeast of Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island is one of the city’s emerging tourist and cultural hotspots. Covering 10.5 square miles (27 square kilometers), the low-lying island is characterized by state-of-the-art art cultural centers, 5-star hotels, and white-sand beaches.

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Yas Mall

Yas Mall

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Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi’s largest shopping mall, is home to 370 stores and more than 60 dining and entertainment venues. Located on Yas Island on the fringes of the city, it offers everything from designer fashion houses to toy stores, all complemented by restaurants, a state-of-the-art multiplex cinema, and other family amusements.

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Masdar City

Masdar City

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Located southeast of Abu Dhabi in the middle of the sprawling desert, Masdar City appears like a mirage. Ground broke on the city in 2008 with the aim of creating the world’s most sustainable eco-city. During the hot summer months, temperatures on the streets of Masdar City run as much as 60 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celcius) cooler than in downtown Abu Dhabi, thanks to a giant wind tower channeling a refreshing breeze through the city’s streets.

Rooftop solar panels — making up one of the largest systems in the Middle East — harness the powerful sun rays to create clean energy to power the city. While only a few thousand people live and work there now, the project is expected to eventually house 40,000 people, with another 50,000 who commute in to work and study.

The city is open daily and can be explored in a couple of hours. Once visitors arrive in the parking area, a driverless vehicle whisks them across the city as part of Masdar’s personal rapid transit system. The city currently houses a dozen eateries, including a Mexican restaurant, coffee shop and sushi joint, with more moving in all the time.

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Yas Island

Yas Island

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A man-made isle north of Abu Dhabi, Yas Island is a multi-attraction destination offering family entertainment, sports, and shopping. The biggest draws to the 9.5-square-mile (25-square-kilometer) island include Ferrari World, the Yas Marina Formula I race circuit, Yas Waterworld aquapark, and the indoor Warner Bros. World complex.

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Emirates National Auto Museum (ENAM)

Emirates National Auto Museum (ENAM)

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South of Abu Dhabi, Emirates National Auto Museum (ENAM) houses 230 vintage and custom vehicles owned by Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, also called the Rainbow Sheikh for his love of the colors of the rainbow. Here, one of the world’s largest car collections is displayed inside and outside a pyramid-shaped hangar.

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Central Market

Central Market

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Unlike the ultra-modern malls of the Emirati capital, Central Market in Abu Dhabi pays homage to Middle Eastern souks. Though still contemporary and air-conditioned, its architecture embraces a traditional style and the complex combines local craft-based outlets and food stalls with designer boutiques.

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Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal

Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal

The Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, also called Zayed Port, is located on the northern tip of Abu Dhabi island, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the city center. While the port has a state-of-the-art terminal and shopping area, there are no other on-site attractions, so new arrivals immediately venture out into the city.

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Observation Deck at 300

Observation Deck at 300

Located 984 feet (300 meters) above ground, Abu Dhabi’s Observation Deck at 300 commands bird’s-eye views over the United Arab Emirates capital. From here, visitors can gaze down at the city’s Corniche, skyscrapers, beaches, and waterways, as well as the Persian Gulf beyond, and enjoy a drink at the sleek café-bar.

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Emirates Park Zoo

Emirates Park Zoo

Home to around 1,400 animals, the Emirates Park Zoo is situated on the northeast outskirts of Abu Dhabi and makes an engaging destination for nature-loving families and visitors of all ages. The zoo houses mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds, and offers an inspiring space for visitors to have fun learning about animal life.

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